November 28, 2011

The Festival Of Trees

Dear Carter,

Today was decorating Day for The Festival Of Trees.  It's hard to think that this tree which we've been working on all year long is finished!  I almost feel like I don't know what to do with myself! To say you were well-represented would be an understatement.  Your trees are beautiful....exactly like you.  Each one has it's own little elements which make it ever so special.  You were so loved little guy....and now everybody knows it!
I still won't give away the full trees until Sunday, but even from these pics you can see how much time and effort went into these.
Each time we finished up a tree, it seemed that we would end up having to talk with this very nice volunteer. After our second tree, she finally commented that she felt like she kept on seeing Carter's people everywhere. She asked about you, and I tried to give her the very basic details of your life. She continued to ask questions, and after asking her how she became involved in the Festival, she told us that she was actually a Resident doctor at your hospital. I went into a lot more detail about your life, and I just KNOW that she walked away from our conversation thinking about what she could learn from your story. She even made the comment that she feels like knowing kids like you is what makes her a better doctor. See baby, you continue to touch people's lives! Even the ones who didn't know you while you were here!
The festival is a magical place. Most of the people who do these trees are doing them in memory of somebody. I even got up the courage to introduce myself to a fellow blogger who has lost two girls to a similar condition to you. Although I wish that we weren't all in this boat together, it made me feel a little less alone. When you see how many trees were donated this year, and think about the hours upon hours of work that went into each of them, you realize that there is still a lot of good that can be done in this world. I feel so very blessed to be a part of it. I miss you so much baby boy, but I feel as though we made you proud today. I can't wait to get back down there tomorrow to see it all again feel that magic again.

November 27, 2011

The Day Is Finally Here!

Dear Carter,

I can't believe that The Festival Of Trees decorating day is finally here! We go down there tomorrow to represent you for the second time. I have a mixture of emotions about it. Mostly I'm excited and happy, but there is also that mix of wishing that I was doing this while you were here. Of course, I probably wouldn't have ever done it if you were here, but still.
Your brother and sister finished up their tree this weekend. It turned out just darling! I don't want to give away too many details because I really REALLY want people to go down and see it in person, but I will give a very small is your picture on your little tree. It just melts my heart.

They had a good time putting this together. The theme ended up being butterflies and stars...almost exactly like your Carter's Hope logo! We did a mini-photoshoot with the tree this weekend, and I promise to share the results after the Festival. Tonight as I was filling out the story cards for your trees, I decided that it would be best to get Mikey and Jovie's perspective on why they did this tree for you. The breakdown is that they love you very much. They miss you. They think that you are like a butterfly because you can spread your wings, AND they think that you get to play with stars now. Oh how I hope and pray that is true! I KNOW that it is, but I still keep on praying.

Again, I have to thank all of our wonderful friends and family for supporting us on this. It's hard to believe that you will have FOUR trees at the festival for you, AND a wreath as well. I know there is no way that we could have done this without all of the donations and help that has been offered to us. I think that you will LOVE the end result. I know that I do!

For those who are thinking of going down to the festival, it is going on from Wednesday to Saturday. You will find Carter's trees in the Small trees section. He has thre five-foot trees, and one three-foot. He also has a wreath up there. I would love, Love, LOVE it if you would share a picture of your family with his trees. Thank you again for all of your support!

November 21, 2011

Thankful For New Opportunities

Dear Carter,

Isn't it funny how one thing can lead to another, and you can watch God's plan unfold? As you know, I've been filling my days with volunteering at your brother and sister's school by working on the PTA. It's been good for me to meet new people, and open up my world a little bit. I tend to get stuck in a rut, and start to feel the bitter pain of missing you when I spend too much time alone. I try my hardest to keep busy and stay around's not that I'm avoiding the pain, it's just that sometimes it seems like too much. I can't stand how much I miss you.

As I told you before, I wrote a grant which our school received. Well, in doing so, I have gotten to know the principal of our school. A couple of weeks ago, both your brother and sister forgot their backpacks, so I had to run them into the school while Daddy waited for me in the parking lot. As I was walking through the hall, the principal approached me and asked if I was looking for a job. I told him that I was eventually, but I wasn't planning to until next year because your sister is still in half-day Kindergarten. After learning a bit more about the job, your Daddy and I thought that it would probably be best for me to go ahead and apply. The hours are perfect for our family....not too many, and the same days off as your brother and sister. Well, after two weeks of back and forth I finally got offered the job! I started my first day today!

To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. My job is officially an ESL (English As A Second Language) tutor, so I have an area that is set up as a classroom where I will work with students who are struggling with English. Ironic considering I went to college to get a degree in English teaching but never finished. I am taking over for somebody who left a couple of weeks ago without any direction as to where they left off. There are piles and piles of materials to sort through to figure out how I can best help these kids. It's going to be tough at first, but once I find my own path I believe it will be AMAZING! I'm so excited for this new opportunity, and thankful to God for leading me onto this path. As I was feeling a little overwhelmed today, I kept thinking to myself that I have overcome much tougher obstacles, and I can do this too!

I hope that you know how much we love and miss you baby boy. I keep on having these moments of remembering the bad lately, and just keep on praying that I'll start concentrating on the good again very soon. I feel like I need that, and I believe it will happen....maybe decorating your tree in exactly ONE WEEK will help.

November 13, 2011

Thankful For Tough Days

Dear Carter,

Today has been one of those tough days for your Daddy and me. Your Daddy watched an inspiring video about a boy with Cerebral Palsy, and there were a lot of similarities between you and him so that triggered some emotions. I took your brother to church today, and while I was there I felt like I was in one of those movies where the lead character keeps on getting flashbacks of some terrible tragedy that happened in their life. My mind kept on flashing on different parts....your funeral, the times when I had to give you CPR, the time when the doctor told us there was nothing more he could do, the times when you were so sick and you struggled to take a single breath. All of these things kept on replaying in my mind, and I kept thinking to myself, "why, WHY do I do this...why can't I just remember the good stuff?". As the mass continued, the message was to not waste your gifts or talents that God gives you. I feel like you were certainly a gift that was given to me, and I often wonder if I am using my talents to continue your work in the ways that I should. All I can say is that I'm going to try harder. I feel guilty that I haven't gotten your Carter's Hope site up and running yet, and I need to get moving on it. It just seems like I have been busy with everything stuff...important stuff...but still just other stuff.

When I got home, I was looking through some files on my computer. My other laptop died, so I've been using my older one which is the one I had when you were here. I came across some more videos of you that I had forgotten about. Here is one of my favorites.

I just love how your pants are huge, and you're having so much fun. I am thankful to have found these, and wonder if I wouldn't have had a tough morning, how long would they have been missing? By watching the videos, I was also reminded of how hard it was for you here on Earth. I see you struggling to breathe, and it comforts me to know that you no longer have to work so hard. I just love you baby boy, and as much as I hate these tough days, I know that there will be some good days to follow.

November 9, 2011

Thankful For Lessons Learned

Dear Carter,

Yesterday I was driving your brother and sister home from their church class and we were jamming to some Christmas songs. We've been listening to them for awhile now because they help us get in the mood to work on your least that's how we are justifying it!

Anyway, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer came on so Mikey and Jovie just started belting it out as loud as they could. After it was over, Mikey told me that he really wanted to watch the movie. I told him that we definitely would this weekend. He started talking about the movie and about his favorite parts, and then told me that there was one part that he really didn't like. I asked which part it was, and completely expected him to say something about one of the songs or something. Instead, he made me the proudest momma ever!

He told me that he didn't like that Rudolph's dad didn't like his nose the way it was.

I felt my heart swell, and the tears come to my eyes because this is exactly what I had hoped he would have learned from you. That we love people for who they are, no matter what their differences are....and I have to admit that I am a bit stunned that at only eight years old he has obviously got it. You did that for him baby boy. You not only taught him that very important lesson, you taught it to all of us.

I am even more glad that we chose Rudolph as your theme, and I hope we make your proud with our tree. I love you my little sweetie!

November 7, 2011

Thankful For Tea Parties

Dear Carter,
I read to your little sister every night at bedtime, and on Saturday night we read the book, "The Word's Biggest Tea Party". It's about the ponies from My Little Pony and how they decide to throw a huge tea party. At the end of the story, I noticed a recipe for a kid friendly tea and an idea sparked in my head. I asked your sister if she would like to have a tea party with me, and saw her eyes light up immediately. She gave me a big nod and began spouting off question after question.

"And I can drink the tea"
"Can Brutus come?"
"Yep, and you can invite two more of your little friends"
"Can it be Peacotty and Thunderbolt?"
"What is tea?"
"It's a hot drink...kind of like coffee, but we'll make it sweet so you'll like it"
"Can we drink it out of the snowmen cups?"
"If you want to"
"Can we have treats?"
"Of course!"

She went on and on and on until finally I had to put an end to it, and just tell her that it was time to go to sleep. Of course she called me into her room about twenty minutes later to tell me to remind her if she forgot.

I told her that we would do it on Monday, but that she'd have to make me an invitation...and one for Brutus of course!

There are so SO many times when I feel like my life, or rather the lives of my kids, feel like they are just speeding by. If there is one thing that you taught me, it's that I can't take any of these moments for granted. I have to try my best to just slooooooowwwww way down, and do these types of things more often. This has been easier said then done, because when Monday came around, and I still didn't feel very good and just wanted to sit on the couch, I really wanted to postpone the party....but I forced myself to get up and start making the tea....and you know what?? It was a blast! We listened to Christmas music, and had our treats (which ended up being Halloween candy), and chatted about what movies she wants to watch for Christmas. It was a nice relaxing afternoon with my girl. She's growing up, and it won't be long until she'll be at school all day long and I won't get the opportunity to do these things with her.

I think we'll do it again tomorrow.

November 6, 2011

Carter Love and NyQuil

Today one of the things I am thankful for is NyQuil. I have been sick all weekend with a nasty cold, and I can't seem to shake it. I took the NyQuil about ten minutes ago which means I have about five more minutes to get this post done before it won't make any sense.

The second thing that I'm thankful for is the Carter love that I still see in people. I get asked all of the time if we are going to order more shirts, and after folding the laundry this weekend and realizing that our shirts are just plain worn out, I've decided that it's definitely time.

So, here's the deal. The shirts are going to be the same design that we did before. I may change it sometime in the future, but this one still seems fitting to us. They will be a white tee, and will cost only $6 each. We aren't making any kind of profit off of this, and if more people order than we expect, that cost may go down a bit.

If you would like one, then please send me an email at teamcarterjay at gmail dot com, and we'll work it out. Sorry, but there aren't any kids' sizes this time. We're going to be ordering Adult Smalls for our little ones for now.

I want to get this order in by the weekend, so I'll need to know soon. I know a lot of us would like to sport our new Carter gear during the Festival Of Trees :)

Thank you so SO SO much for all of the Carter Love! We are surrounded by the best support system ever, and I KNOW that we wouldn't have made it through the last couple of years without it.

November 4, 2011

Thankful For Friends

Dear Carter,

Today I am so very thankful for friends. I honestly don't think that I could have made it through the last couple of years without the support they offer me daily. Tonight I got to take four of my closest and dearest friends shopping for the rest of the decorations for your tree. I had the best time, and just love them so SO much!

We went to several stores, and came home with quite the haul! This tree is going to ROCK the Festival Trees...there's no doubt about it! Thank you so much to Becki, Gretchen, April, and Stephanie. I just love how much you love Carter, and I can't wait until Decorating Day to see this project come together!

November 3, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Dear Carter,

I missed my post yesterday! Your Daddy is on vacation this week too, so we've been doing a lot of family movie nights this week. Hopefully your brother and sister don't start to expect them every night!

Today I am thankful for having a nice home to live in. It has been bitter cold the last couple of days, and I can't even imagine having to stay outside all of the time. While we were in Denver, we saw several homeless people who were making up their own beds right in the alcoves of the shops on the streets. I know that this is a growing problem in the United States, but I am just not exposed to it around here as much.

I am praying for all of those people that we saw on the streets today because it looks like Denver is getting pounded with snow again, and I can't imagine what they could be doing. I hope that God finds a way to take care of them and keep them warm. My heart really goes out to them.

November 1, 2011

30 Days Of Thanks - Denver Trip

Dear Carter,

I'm going to try to do the 30 Days Of Thanks challenge during the month of November. Of course there are so SO many things that I am thankful for, so these are in no particular order.

Today, I am most thankful for your Daddy and the trip he took me on this weekend. I am not lying when I say that many MANY of my dreams came true on this trip, and a lot of them were completely unplanned. I truly think that God was looking out for us on this trip!

As most people know, your Daddy and I are huge HUGE football fans. Your Daddy is a Denver Broncos fan, and I am a Detroit Lions fan. The thing about our two teams is that they only play each other every four years, so we don't encounter too many problems with our rivalry. They only play in Denver once every eight years, and we had planned to take a trip to see them play each other eight years ago, but as luck would have it your brother was due about two weeks before the game. Our next plan was to go to Detroit for the game four years ago, but it ended up falling right as we were building our house. When the schedule came out this year, we knew that this was our chance and made plans for our trip. It has been a long LONG time coming, and was worth every moment. Your brother and sister got well taken care of by your Grandmas and Aunt Stacy.

We flew out on Friday night, and met Mommy's friend, Jenny, for dinner and a night on the town.
It was excellent to hang out with her, and it reminded me of just how much we miss her. Thank you so much to Jenny for showing us around....we had a blast!!

The next day we took a trip to the stadium to check it out. We really are geeks when it comes to football, so it was fun to walk around while it wasn't busy. Here is a view from the stadium.
Your Daddy liked seeing his Bronco fountain!We spent the rest of the day shopping, and just enjoying the city. It was good to have a mini-vacation where at least on one day we had no plans, and could just relax.

The next morning was game day, so we got up early and went to breakfast. Now here is when things got a little exciting. I have to preface this by saying that we booked this hotel using Hotwire. It's a website where you purchase a room, but you don't know exactly where you will be staying until after you've paid. You only know the type of hotel your reservation will be comparable to. We found out we would be staying at The Westin which we were nervous about since the reviews online weren't that great. We were pleasantly surprised to find out this was quite a nice hotel and fancy in comparison to our past hotels.

After breakfast, we were walking through the street mall and came upon a booth where the Denver Bronco Cheerleaders were signing posters. We had them sign one for Team Carter, and decided that it would be best to take it up to the room before we went on to the stadium. As we were walking up to our hotel, we saw that there were a few busses parked in the front, and when we went in there were about 10-15 Lions fans waiting in the lobby. Of course we thought to ourselves..."could it be? Is the team here??". Daddy ran up to the room, and I waited in the lobby when sure enough down the escalator comes a few of the players. I surely thought my heart would beat out of my chest. I know that these are just people, but I cheer on these people every single week. I have to admit that I got starstruck. When your Daddy came back down, we were passed by Linebacker, Bobby Carpenter. Then a few seconds later, Coach Jim Schwartz started coming down the escalator with a few other players. I was within inches of all of these guys, and it was AWESOME! Daddy yelled out "Mr. Schwartz", and he waved back at him (even though he was wearing a Broncos jersey ha!). THEN a few minutes later, our Quarterback Matthew Stafford came down the escalator. The pictures we got our horrible because we had the settings messed up and everything happened so fast, but Matt is the guy in the gray sweatshirt. More and more came down...some I could recognize, and some I couldn't. This is a picture of me next to the escalator. One of my favorite players ever, our kicker, Jason Hanson is the guy in the gray suit on the left. There are a bunch of linemen behind him.The guy carrying the box is our Defensive Tackle Ndamukung Suh. Be still my heart!!We saw some cornerbacks and other wide receivers. The only player that I did not see who would have been hard to miss is Calvin Johnson (he's six foot five!). I think he must have came out before we were there. To think that I slept in the same building as my whole team is CRAZY to me, and that I was within inches of most of them is even better! We even got to meet Detroit's Hall Of Fame fan, The Crackman. He gave us a signed card too!I think about all of the things that had to come into play for this to happen, and can only be thankful to God for making it all happen. It was complete chance that we got that hotel...complete chance that we came upon the Denver Cheerleaders which caused us to go back to the hotel. We would have never have even known!

Once we got to the stadium we watched a couple of the Denver Broncos walk in. The only one we recognized was Brady Quinn. Then we took a few photo opps before the gates opened.Your Daddy even took a moment to "Tebow" in front of the Broncos.Once the gates were opened, we got to watch the players warm up. We were on row nine, so we had a close view!

At the beginning of the game, they released a TON of balloons. All we could think about is how much fun you would have with them up there in Heaven. We love you my little sweetie!

The game ended with my Lions really laying it on The Broncos, but your Daddy was a good sport about it. We really had the best time, and the best part was knowing that even after everything that has happened in the last couple of years, we can still have good things happen to us....for this we are thankful.